Carnival Cruise Ships Start Returning to Grand Turk

The first Carnival-owned cruise ships begin returning to the Grand Turk Cruise Center for the first time since suspensions started in 2020.

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After many months of inactivity, Grand Turk exploded back to life when two cruise ships visited the islands in the last couple of days. Carnival Freedom visited the port on December 15 during her 6-night voyage, which set off from Miami.

On December 13, Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam was the first cruise ship to visit the islands since the pandemic caused a mass pause in operations for the entire cruise industry in March 2020.

It’s not just a relief for the locals, who have been preparing for this momentous occasion for many months now; it is equally important to Carnival Cruise Line, and the other ships sailing under the Carnival Corporation umbrella, that Grand Turk is back on the agenda.

Grand Turk is Back!

Grand Turk & Caicos has always been one of the most popular ports of call for Carnival Cruise Line. The visit from Carnival Freedom, and Nieuw Amsterdam, this week marks an end to many months of preparation and hope for the locals, while cruise fans can finally enjoy the fantastic beaches and activities the islands have to offer.

Carnival Freedom in Grand Turk
Carnival Freedom in Grand Turk (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)

The Grand Turk Cruise Center (GTCC) is financed and operated by Carnival Corporation. While the cruise line would have liked to return earlier, Mardi Gras has been scheduled here on December 7; some work still needed to be carried out to ensure the island was 100% ready to receive guests again safely.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line: “We are delighted to bring Carnival Freedom back to Grand Turk and to offer our guests the opportunity to experience all of this port’s beauty once again. On behalf of Carnival, I would like to thank the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and all our partners on the ground in Grand Turk for working with us to make this opportunity possible.”

The 110.320 gross tonnes Carnival Freedom departed on a six-day Eastern Caribbean cruise from the world cruise capital, PortMiami, on December 12. The vessel is scheduled to visit Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic today, December 16, before heading back to her homeport.

For December, Carnival Cruise Line has calls scheduled for Carnival Sunrise, Carnival Elation, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic, Carnival Sunshine, and another call from Carnival Freedom.

Also read: 22 Things to Do in Grand Turk During a Cruise Vacation

Elation in Turks & Caicos as Cruising Returns

While the arrival of Carnival Freedom was reason enough to celebrate, she was not the first cruise ship to return to the islands. That honor befell Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam on her cruise from Fort Lauderdale.

The 2010-built, 2106-passenger Holland America ship sailed from Port Everglades on December 11 for a 7-day cruise, with the first port of call being Grand Turk on December 13. She was welcomed with open arms by the locals, who were thrilled to offer activities to visitors once again.

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Ship
Photo: Benson Truong / Shutterstock.com

Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism, said: “Grand Turk is back! Cruisers may now book their activities to experience what we have to offer. We all know that the past year has been a challenging time for everyone, both visitors and host, alike. Thanks to our guests and residents for your incredible patience as we tried to navigate through this difficult period. We will safely and surely re-establish safe cruising.”

Grand Turk aims for a slow and methodical return of cruise ships to the islands. Over the last month, the government has invested heavily in training and education for locals involved in the tourism trade, ensuring everyone knows exactly what to do to prevent the spread of COVID on the islands.

Reopening of Grand Turk Event
Reopening of Grand Turk Event

The Grand Turk Cruise Center has always been a hugely popular stop for guests, and for a good reason. Carnival Corporation invested $50 million in the cruise port and has pledged a further $73 million in investments in the future.

There is a wide variety of activities that guests can partake in, from having fun in the sun at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville to an exciting ride on the FlowRider surf simulator. Guests can also enjoy Jerk chicken at Jack’s Shack, the popular spot which was destroyed by Hurricane Irma only a few years ago. Cockburn Town is full of historical significance and a wonderful place to spend a few hours for those wanting to venture further.

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